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Research Shows Organic Food Gives You More Bang For Your Buck

Updated on September 23, 2016
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Amy is a Colorado native and nutrition professor. She holds both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in the field of nutrition.

Whats Wrong With Conventional Produce?

Conventional produce can and likely does contain synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Since these chemicals are often sprayed on plants, the skins can be submerged with these chemicals too deep to remove by a simple washing or rinse. Organic foods can be expensive. If going organic with your produce is out of your price range, there are ways to go partially organic in ways it counts the most. There is a list known as the “Dirty Dozen” to help consumers prioritize the produce with the highest concentration of chemicals and pesticides used. These are produce items most recommended to purchase organic. The dirty dozen includes: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and potatoes.


Soil Quality and Nutrients in the Foods You Eat

Another factor to steer you toward organic produce, is understanding how the soil quality differs with conventional vs. organic farming. The nutrient quality of soil is directly related to the nutrient quality of food. Think of dirt as what puts the vitamins and minerals in your food. Conventional farming relies on heavy usage of synthetic fertilizers so they can grow the same crop over and over again. These fertilizers offset the natural balance of nitrogen, calcium, manganese, and carbon within the soil. As the soil becomes more deficient in these minerals, it also becomes more acidic. Plants in high acidity soil are unable to absorb important nutrients and therefore become decreased in their nutritional profile. It is also both speculated and currently being researched how phytonutrient composition is compromised in conventional farming. A 10-year study that compared conventional tomatoes to organic tomatoes found significantly higher levels of phytonutrients in the organic tomatoes. To be exact, the organic tomatoes had 79% higher levels of quercetin and 97% higher levels of kaempferol than conventionally grown tomatoes.

Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Your body can best digest fruits and vegetables in their entirety without synthetic chemicals complicating their metabolism. Before synthetic fertilizers were created, farmers needed to rely on natural methods to maintain crop yield. These methods included natural fertilizers such as manure or compost, crop rotation, and the growth of cover crops during the farming off-season. These methods, which are commonly used in organic farming, naturally boost the soil nutrient quality leading to higher mineral and phytonutrient content within food.


Mitchell A, Hong YJ, Barrett DM et al. Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, Volume 55, Issue 15, June 2007, Pages 6154-9

Davis, D.R. (2005) Trade-offs in agriculture and nutrition. Food Technol. 59:120.


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